Born of prison: The poetry and music of Belizean Francis Eiley

Belizean Francis

WASHINGTON, February 18, 2012 – In America we enjoy certain Constitutional freedoms, primarily those covered by the First Amendment. And no one knows how dear those liberties are until they are forcefully, sometimes brutally, taken from them. 

San Pedro Times (2010)

San Pedro Times (2010)

In lesser-developed and underdeveloped countries, the right and might of a ruling class can easily destroy the lives of the people and the country.

Corruption in the police department, judges, lawyers and jurors leave people living in fear of the ruling class as the nation’s quality of life deteriorates and social rot takes it place.

Such is the story of Francis “Chino” Eiley who was accused of a murder he did not commit on November 2, 2002. Arrested and sentenced to life at the Hattieville Prison in Belize, Central America, Eiley is the victim of a failed legal system, for one dare not say justice system.

Innocent of participating in the bludgeoning of a fisherman despite being fingered by the bloody hand of one of the killers, neither Eiley or his family had the funds necessary to insure that he would receive a fair trial, or justice.

The system in Belize needs a check up; the judges, jurors, the prosecution; they are all corrupt,” Francis Eiley says. “They need some soul searching themselves and the people of Belize no will get justice. There’s a lot of innocent people in jail, besides myself that had less than a fair trial than myself.”

From behind bars, Francis began to write, resulting in a collection of poetry titled Caged Chronicles, Cries for Justice that is free flowing and powerful in word and image.

In the poem Wheel of Injustice he writes:

The wheel of injustice / has caused my soul to erode, / leaving my heart with a dark hole, / a vortex within my soul, / a struggle ensues of evil and good, / be it may what it should, / I let my conscious be my guide, / let God hear my cry.

Caged Chronicles ~ Cries for Justice

Caged Chronicles ~ Cries for Justice

Francis Eiley was fortunate to have parents that stood behind him, believing in his innocence, eventually helping him to win back his freedom. But the scars left by his torment remain for the young man who continues to write, and now sets his poems to music. 

At the time I met Francis in the summer of 2010 at his family’s restaurant, El Fagon on San Pedro Island, the Belizean Judicial Committee of the Privy Council had dismissed the murder convictions of Eiley along with Ernest Savery and Lenton Polonio, who were also originally charged in the murder.

The men won their release with the help of the London-based Death Penalty Project which started working on the trio’s appeal in 2009.

Though now free, Chino, as his friends call him, spent seven years with his rights and freedoms removed.

“I was released because there was insufficient evidence from the beginning and they didn’t have nothing to go on except for the word of the person they caught red handed with blood stains on him,” Francis Eiley says. “To take such a witness with such a character as that to become state evidence, that just shows the character or the desperation that they have to quell crime.” 

“But Belize is such a small beautiful country,” Eiley says, “and what’s happening in the city and what’s happening with the youths, it could be easily cured. All this killing could stop.”

Today this very gentle man lives in Belize City where he continues to work on his music and poetry, offering a voice that should be heard, listened to, understood by all those that hold the right to freedom dear.

In this video you can hear his Cry for Justice for those that are caged. One can only hope that his voice will be given a broader audience.

You can follow Francis “Chino” Eiley on Facebook


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More from Central America | Maya 2012
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Jacquie Kubin

Jacquie Kubin is an award winning journalist that began writing in 1993 following a successful career in marketing and advertising in Chicago.  She started Communities Digital News in 2009 as a way to adapt to the changing online journalism marketing place.  Jacquie is President and Managing Editor of Communities Digital News, LLC and a frequent contributor to The Washington Times Communities as well as a member of the National Association of Professional Woman, New American Foundation and the Society of Professional Journalist.  Email Jacquie here

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